CanCell - a new Centre of Excellence - will reprogram cancer cells

“Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming”, affiliated with the Institute of Clinical Medicine at University of Oslo, has been funded by the Research Council of Norway as a new Centre of Excellence.

Tremendous advances in technology have allowed sequencing of thousands of cancer genomes and identified numerous genetic and epigenetic aberrations in tumours. A major obstacle to translating this information into clinical benefit is our incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which irreversible genetic aberrations and reversible epigenetic modifications affect tumour cells, and how the tumour microenvironment and somatic tissues promote cancer progression. CanCell’s vision is to form a world-class centre that elucidates changes in cellular pathways which are rewired during cancer development, defined as “cancer cell programmes”, including cell signalling, metabolism, membrane dynamics, and genome/chromatin organisation. The centre’s unique strategy is to reveal cross-talk between these programmes via close cooperation between leading experts on the individual processes.

Due to the complexity of cancer cell programmes, resolving their impact on cancer progression requires the close integration that can only be achieved within a dynamic research centre with tightly interwoven research projects. Innovative methods and collaborations with a strong interdisciplinary team of associate members and world-leading visiting professors will further enhance the impact of CanCell’s research. In vitro models with cultured cells and in vivo models with fruit flies, zebrafish and mice will be used to recapitulate cancer progression in individual cells and in organisms, with special emphasis on tumour-microenvironment interactions. These integrated analyses will identify novel oncogene and non-oncogene addiction pathways that cancer cells are particularly dependent on for their growth, spreading and survival, thus exposing “Achilles’ heels” of cancer. This will be exploited for “reprogramming” cancer cells into non-malignant cells in vitro and in vivo to pave the way for novel cancer therapies.

CanCell consists of 6 research groups headed by the following scientists with expertise on distinct cancer cell programmes:

Harald Stenmark, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo (director)

Anne Simonsen, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo (co-director)

Tor Erik Rusten, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo

Ragnhild Eskeland, Institute of Biosciences, University of Oslo

Jorrit Enserink, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital

Jørgen Wesche, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital

In addition, the following scientists are associate members of the centre:

Yngvar Fløisand, Dept. of Haematology, Oslo University Hospital

Åslaug Helland, Department of Oncology, Oslo University Hospital

Philippe Collas, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo

Arnoldo Frigessi, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo

Eivind Hovig, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital

Emmet McCormack, Dept. of Clinical Science, University of Bergen

Terje Johansen, Institute for Medical Biology, University of Tromsø

Four world-leading scientists have so far accepted visiting professorships at CanCell:
Ivan Dikic, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
Eileen White, Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey, USA
Eyal Gottlieb, Beatson Institute, Glasgow, UK
Kristian Helin, BRIC, Copenhagen, Denmark

The new centre will open during the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.


From the home page of the Research Council of Norway:
Ten new Norwegian Centres of Excellence

Article about the CanCell centre from major Norwegian nationalwide newpaper Dagbladet (in Norwegian):
Slik skal de programmere kreftceller til å bli ufarlige ("This is how they will program cancer cells to become harmless")


CanCell web site

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